On the evening of Saturday 12th March, Letchworth Canoe Club polo team were playing in the National League Division 4, South East Tournament, at Stevenage Swimming Centre.
Their first match was against St. Albans. This was a close fought match with Letchworth taking an early lead, thanks to a goal from Paul Stephens. Letchworth held onto the lead until half way through the second half when St. Albans scored an equaliser. Letchworth put St. Albans under pressure to score a winner, but despite several shots on target, were unable to find the back of the net. Final score for the first match 1:1.
The second match was against University of London (ULU). Letchworth dominated the game, with Paul Stephens again opening the scoring for Letchworth early in the first half, followed by Fee McCusker and Joe Gibson adding to the total. Letchworth should have scored more goals, but poor shooting let them down. A defensive error by Letchworth allowed ULU to score a conciliation goal. Final score for the second match 3:1
The third match was against Blackwater, one of the strongest teams in the league. Letchworth allowed Blackwater to pull their defence apart in the first half and conceded 5 goals. After a team reorganisation at half time, the second half saw a much improved Letchworth side, with Paul Stephens scoring the only goal of that half with a fine individual effort taking the ball from the half way line to the goal to score. Final score for the third match 1:5
The last match was against Battersea - a very even game with Steve Bratton scoring for Letchworth in the first half before then conceding 2 goals. A nail-biting second half ensued, before Alistair Riches scored a well-deserved equaliser to draw the final match 2:2.
A successful tournament for Letchworth, with their best results so far this season.
Team Left to Right Fee Mccusker Alistair Riches Paul Stephens Steve Bratton Joe Gibson
Canoe polo is a high adrenaline, exciting, team sport, played in kayaks with teams of up to 8 players, attempting to score into goals suspended 2 metres above the water.
Letchworth canoe polo team are part of Baldock & District Canoe club paddling at North Herts Leisure Centre, in Letchworth, on Sunday evenings.
For further information, please see www.thecanoeclub.co.uk
Having camped at Southwold many times before, I felt it was the ideal destination for a social weekend and paddle for our club.
17 of us descended on the campsite during Friday afternoon and evening. Some from as far as West Wales!
Although I knew the harbour well, I had never studied the river Blythe before and realised when you look at water through a paddlers eyes it's quite a different entity.
There was the tide to consider, plus swirls, boils and under currents.
Saturday morning, the sun shone and the water beckoned with the incoming tide, as we congregated on the quayside and divided into groups.
Some of the members had never paddled on moving water before, so the initial launch was a little nerve wracking, but all proved very competent and after a couple of hours (and a couple of muddy detours!) we arrived at the pub at Blytheborough.
Having all been ''refreshed'' we paddled back with the tide, accompanied by some inquisitive seals for part of the way.
An enjoyable evening around the campfire was had by all, gazing up at clear star studded skies.
The company was brilliant, the weather was fantastic and the fish and chips lived up to their reputation.
The only trouble was we ran out of time, because the surf looked good too.
But there's always next year!
Everyone else having traveled to North Wales Friday night, Dave and I decided as there was no water in North Wales we would head to the Cardiff International White Water Center, a pumped course guaranteed water, paddle there for the day and then head to N. Wales to paddle with the rest of the group on the Sunday.
Arrived in Cardiff and filled in all the paper work, got changed watched the course start to fill with water and had a look at the features. Then got on the water and warmed up and waited and waited, only 1 pump would run, so after an hour we got off for a stretch and luckily half an hour later all pumps were running and we were back on ready for our first run down the course.
Talking to a local he described the course as "Like being mugged by a toddler" an excellent description as though the course looks easy there is always something that will catch you unawares if you relax too much.
Course is a similar level to the Legacy at Lee Valley but the features are more representative of a real rapid and the eddies are easier to sit in. It is very shallow in parts and has some nice surf waves and stoppers to play in.
After wearing ourselves out on the course Dave had the pleasure of driving us to meet the others in N. Wales, we arrived in time to walk down the town for dinner and a few well deserved beers. They had all paddled various parts of the Dee from Horseshoe falls to Town falls with varying degrees of success.
Sunday saw the group paddle yet again paddle the Dee this time from Horseshoe falls to JJ's. The Dee was at the lowest I have ever paddled it. We paddled as one group of thirteen (unlucky for some) Serpents Tail was the usual wall to wall plastic,some of the group running the rapid and some portaging it and others with more energy running it several times.
We then carried on down to JJ's with various paddlers playing in the various features on the way, with varying levels of success.
Thanks to Dave for being my chauffeur for the weekend and Graham for organizing the coaching and accommodation. Despite the lack of water I think everyone had an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable time.